Venus Fly Trap
There are plants and then there are plants that can sway you off your feet! The Venus Fly Trap is one such plant that is a beautiful addition to any garden or home and has a high utility as well. Are you interested to know more about it?
What is Venus fly trap plant?
The Venus fly trap plant is most commonly referred to as Venus' flytrap and it is a completely carnivorous plant. It has often been termed as a mysterious plant because its mechanism of catching insects has not been completely understood by botanists across the world.
The binomial name of the Venus fly trap plant is Dionaea muscipula and it is a native of North Carolina and South Carolina. It is most commonly found growing in and around the savannas and coastal bogs of the North and South Carolina.
What makes this plant so much more interesting are its food habits. The Venus fly trap plant is a carnivore and its favorite meal can vary from flies to red ants, black ants, caterpillar, wasp, grasshopper, beetle, and even small frogs.
There is no insect that can really get past its jaws or claws that have baffled some of the most extraordinary minds for a long time. How does it really achieve this feat?
The Venus fly trap plant is known to be related to the sundews and the waterwheel plant and is quite small in size. This plant can easily fit into your flower pot and the adult plant can reach a size of about 5 inches or 13 cm in diameter.
A single plant can have multiple traps, which are essential leaves with open jaws for trapping insects. A Venus fly trap leaf will have a maximum trap size of 1 inch or 3 cm in length.
If the plant is grown in marginal conditions then it can have anywhere from 4-8 working traps at any given point in time.
Venus Fly Trap Adaptation
Venus flytrap plant has the most unusual adaptations to low-nutrient environments where they live. These venus fly trap plants obtain some nutrients by trapping and digesting various insect, flies and small creatures that come near to them.
Insects are the most common prey to the venus flytrap plants and due to this, they sometimes called insectivorous plants.
Most of the plants absorb nitrogen from the soil through their roots whereas Venus fly trap (Carnivorous plants) absorb nitrogen from their animal prey through their leaves called as traps.
By Nature, these traps are bright in colour to attract and capture the prey, these traps contain needle-like tiny hairs and a sticky sweet smelling liquid substance that are attractive to insects. When an insect comes in close contact, the trap gets activated and closes quickly, Insect has got no chance to escape.
Growing Venus fly traps in house
The Venus fly trap plant can be grown in a flower pot as well as directly in your garden. It is a great plant to have at your home and believe it or not – it can actually help you to get rid of those pesky little insects and flies, the natural way!
The question is, what all do you need or rather how can you go about it? Firstly, you need to pick up the plant from somewhere. You can buy adult plants from garden supply stores. You can pick them from stores that specialize in carnivorous plants as well. The other options include picking up seeds and then growing it directly from there.
Whether you are planning to buy the plant itself or growing from seeds, there are few essentials that you need to consider. They are:
This is a native plant of North and South Carolina and hence its soil requirements are similar. If you are planning to plant it home, you need soil that is extremely poor in nutrients. The soil should be able to absorb as well as hold water and at the same time ensure free draining.
Note: The soil should not be too soggy or too dry as that will kill the plant.
The most common "growing mediums" for the Venus Fly trap plant include dry or partially decomposed sphagnum peat moss and sand or perlite.
Note: Do not use any type of fertilizer as that will be "injurious to its health!"
The one thing a Venus Fly trap plant really enjoys is lots of sunlight! They thrive really well in direct sunlight and this is where you need to be concerned about the type of flower pot you plant it in.
What you really need are insulated pots especially the ones that are double walled. The one thing you don’t want is the soil to get overheated and burn down the roots of the plant. Styrofoam or polyurethane foam pots are definitely recommended!
This is another aspect that needs to given much importance. Most plants can thrive on any type of water but Venus Fly trap can’t tolerate the normal tap water.
Most tap water contains TDS or total dissolved solids, which include a variety of minerals and various soluble materials. The Venus fly trap needs pure water or any water that has a TDS ppm of less than 50 like Reverse osmosis (RO) water and distilled water.
Venus fly trap plants flower in the spring and flowering means the end of its life cycle. When the plant flowers, it spends most of its energy and this can kill the plant.
Hence, it is advisable to cut off any flower stalk that takes form. Although, flowering is considered as the terminal act of an adult Venus fly trap rosette, it is not completely the end.
During this process, the existing rosette dies and is replaced by smaller divisions or rather younger plantlets that will grow up to be Venus fly trap plants.
Venus fly trap plants undergo a period of dormancy that normally begins soon after the summers are over. In the dormancy period, the plant’s overall growth is slow and doesn’t require water frequently. The dormancy period can vary from a few weeks to a few months.
Note: If you are staying in a region where temperatures go below freezing then you need to bring the plant indoors. Light or even moderate frost can kill the Venus fly trap.
The Venus fly trap plant can often become a victim of pests and insects like the spider mites, aphids, fungus gnats, and is prone to fungal and bacterial infection. The best way to tackle the pest issue is by using systemic and superficial insecticide.
Food for Venus
The Venus fly trap is a carnivore and it will catch its own food, which can vary from flies to common insects and even tiny frogs.
The Venus fly trap is accustomed to catching and eating live prey and its meal can comprise of caterpillars, ants, beetles, wasps, and grasshoppers as well. Their prey mechanism is triggered by the very motion of a live prey and this is exactly the reason why you cannot serve it dead prey.
At the same time, if you are planning to feed your Venus fly trap live prey then you need to ensure they are not big enough to bite through the leaf and destroy the plant.
If you live in a region where flies are not common then the other type of insects that you can feed the plant include small earthworms, mealworms, and bloodworms.
Note: If you are feeding your Venus fly trap plant dead insect or non-moving food then it is advisable to gently massage the outside surface of the trap where the fine and sensitive hairs are located.
This will stimulate the trigger hairs and cause the trap to close down tightly. Once the trap is closed, the plant will begin the digestion of the food. This gentle massaging is required only for dead or non-living food.
Another important thing to note is that if you are manually feeding the Venus fly trap then it is best to feed only one or maybe two traps instead of all the traps.
Venus fly trap terrariums
Plants in the terrariums can hence the beauty and aesthetic value of the surrounding but the question is – can a Venus fly trap survive in terrariums?
The answer is that it depends purely on the type of terrarium you choose. If it is a completely enclosed one then there is a high percentage that your Venus fly trap plant will die as most terrariums pose a heating and drainage problem.
The most important aspect to consider when using Venus fly trap terrariums is that you need to recreate the same temperature and soil conditions as they are used to.
You need to also ensure the Venus fly trap in a terrarium is kept at least 6-10 inches away from any type of fluorescent lighting.
Apart from the soil, ventilation should be good enough so that your Venus fly trap doesn’t get cooked due to overheating.
How Venus fly trap kills insect?
The traps are the most essential and exquisite aspect of the Venus fly trap plant and helps in catching prey. The leaves or traps of the plant are kept wide open to attract fly and insects. The inside of the trap has short hairs known as trigger hairs or sensitive hairs.
There are 3 such hair trichomes on each side and when any insect or prey touches the hair in rapid succession within 20 seconds then the trap automatically shuts.
The trap shuts within one-tenth of a second and will open only after 12 hours or more depending on the size of the prey. The mechanism of the shutting of the trap is quite intricate and involves an interaction between turgor, elasticity, and growth. The trap works only when the trigger hairs are stimulated and not otherwise.